Icarus-Colour-Space, a new series of work by Canadian based artist Sydney Blum, is shaped like a wing, suggesting a continuum of time and space. The ways in which the grids, colors and shapes are composed make you feel as if you are about to take off. This is where the title of the exhibition, Icarus-Colour-Space, comes in. Icarus is, of course, the figure in Greek myth whose father fashioned wings of feathers and wax so that they could escape imprisonment on an island. Icarus, young and full of life, skateboarded through the sky, as it were. Yet in spite of his father’s warnings, he flew too near the sun, the wax on his wings melted, and he fell to his death.
Sydney Blum has used the idea of Icarus flying towards the sun as the impetus of her new work. Here, she attempts to describe and create the motion and sensation of flying but in solid form: an incongruity that is not lost on her. She juxtaposes and distorts colors and lines and shapes in such ways as to produce seemingly contradictory vibrating waves of energy in our consciousness. We see the form, the suggestion of a wing, a shield, an expanding and contracting grid underlaid with gradations of color. The flight that draws us through this complex undulating interplay of color, shapes, shadows and light takes us somewhere else. Towards the sun, perhaps. Into the unknown, certainly.
In the previous series “Fuzzy Geometry” we were guided to an inner world of uncertain boundaries of color and space, while this new work describes a movement outward, upward. The mechanics are quite visible and intentionally evident as one moves around the pieces cantilevered from the wall. Perhaps a collaboration between Icarus’ father and the Wright Brothers. It is strangely optimistic.
For Sydney, the creation of a piece of sculpture is an exploration. The development of the process, sourcing the materials and designing the structures are only a part of the whole undertaking. She examines a large selection of computer programs and websites in her research into earth energies, the vibrations of color, grid formations, oscillation, geometric theory, seismology, interference patterns, dowsing, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, shape theory and metallurgy. It is quite evident that she is deeply interested in subtle energies. For the new series, she has also had lengthy discussions with printers who produce the raw materials for the pieces, and she has worked closely with a metal machinist to design the movable mechanism holding the sculptures out from the wall. All this is in addition to thinking deeply about the meaning and implications of her work, manipulating the materials, and engaging her creativity and imagination throughout every aspect of the project.
Sydney Blum has had exhibitions at P.S. 1, the New Museum, the Sculpture Center, the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Massachusetts College of Art in Boston as well as locations in Europe. Her work has been reviewed and discussed in international art journals, including Art Forum, Art in America and The New York Times. She taught at the Parsons College of Fine Art in New York for 17 years. She has received grants from Artist Space, the New York Foundation for the Arts and Creation Grants for Arts Nova Scotia.
excerpt from essay by Elizabeth Spence